Responding to rumours circulating last week of the Y&R Beijing office closing, the agency said it remains operational in Beijing, even as multiple calls made to the main switchboard were diverted to voicemail.
However, around half of Y&R Beijing's staff have been folded into Wunderman Beijing as part of a global consolidation of the Dell account, the agency said. The remaining Y&R Beijing staff will report directly to Y&R's Shanghai management team.
Y&R reportedly employed about 50 people in Beijing prior to the change, under GM Luis Da Rosa. Y&R has not yet responded to a followup question regarding Da Rosa's role.
"We are doing everything we can to support the team during this period of change," said Annie Boo, CEO of Y&R China, in a prepared statement. "Moving forward, we will be focusing our efforts on continuing to build the Beijing office, while also continuing to grow our strong presence in Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong.”
According to a Y&R employee close to the matter, the transfer of the Dell account and the scale-down of the office have been in the works for a year. "It's a bit sad considering Y&R was the first Western agency to enter China, breaking ground in Beijing in 1986," this person said.
Globally, Y&R took over the Dell account in 2009 when WPP folded Enfatico, originally a standalone agency it set up to service Dell at the end of 2007, into its Y&R Brands division. At that time, an Enfatico spokesman said the move was a "strategic decision to tap Y&R's available resources for Dell and other clients".
In China, Y&R Beijing minded the Dell account creatively, but in reality, the creativity is mostly controlled at a global level, with work for the mainland market mostly around retail execution.
The move last week was related to the "international tidying-up" of accounts, according to the employee. Wunderman is actually a better fit for the services Dell needs, the source added.
Last year, Y&R Beijing announced that it had been appointed AOR for Xtep, at the time the third-biggest Chinese sportswear brand by market share. The scope of the deal was to cover brand and product strategy and creative development from 2017 to 2019. Campaign has asked for details about the accounts the remaining Y&R staff in Beijing will be working on.